Sea of Galilee vista
As a Christian, two places stood out for me and neither was in Jerusalem or Bethlehem or, for that matter, Nazareth.
The Sea of Galilee was the place that most moved me as a Christian.
We had been through Bethlehem and Hebron, on to Taybeh and Nablus, and had toured Sebastia and Nazareth by the time we got to the Sea of Galilee, so I had seen a fair amount of rocky, arid, olive-tree dominated landscape. I found this bright blue body of water physically and spiritually invigorating.
It was very easy for me to “see” Jesus in and around this lake, teaching multitudes, calling out to fishermen to join him and building a following on these breezy hillsides above the Sea of Galilee. If there were “best of times” in Jesus’ three arduous years of ministry, perhaps they were here.
I was also drawn to Jericho. This is an oasis in a desert as barren as any I’ve seen. But I loved the desert. It seemed to embrace the sunlight and toss it back. It was almost blinding when the sun was high in the sky. But it was soothing when the sun gave way.
We had an evening meal on a mountainside above Jericho that will always remain with me. We were perched high above the city with the mountains of Jordan beyond, reaching far into the distance. The glow on the horizon was Amman. The harsh sun was replaced by a silver moon. Just above us was the Qurantul monastery, built into that mountainside like a sacred fortress some 900 years earlier.
“The desert is a very spiritual place,” said Wisam Salsaa on the coach the next day, and I had to agree.